Syria’s wealthy businesses feel civil war squeeze

October 18, 2012 • World News

FILE – In this Monday September 24, 2012 file photo, a Free Syrian Army fighter, left, helps traders, right, as they remove their stock from their shops, at the souk of the old city of Aleppo city, Syria. Wealthy Syrians say the violence from the 19-month civil war has pommeled their businesses, but the squeeze from a complex array of sanctions is the noose slowly strangling their country’s buckling economy. They warn that if their companies tank, thousands of employees may find themselves out of work and dragged into the fighting. Today, streets are manned by checkpoints and tanks. Construction on new apartment complexes has stopped as plumes of smoke rise from the city’s hard-hit suburbs. In Aleppo, bombs have ripped through the city and a more than two-month long government offensive there has not only killed hundreds of civilians, but damaged ancient sites and demolished entire neighborhoods. Arabic on the closed shop at right reads,”Aleppo.” (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)

CAIRO (AP) — Syria’s wealthy, long cultivated by President Bashar Assad as a support for his regime, are seeing their businesses pummeled by the bloody civil war. Factories have been burned down or damaged in fighting. International sanctions restrict their finances. Some warn that their companies are in danger of going under, worsening the country’s buckling economy.

Assad may not have lost the backing of Syria’s business elite, but some are losing faith. Many of those who can have fled abroad, hoping to ride out the turmoil, which is now in its 19th month and is only getting worse as rebels and regime forces tear apart the country in their fight for power.

Several businessmen interviewed by The Associated Press say resentment is growing against Assad over the crisis — but they also aren’t throwing their lot in with the rebellion. They are hunkering down, trying to salvage their companies.

One young businessman said his family factory in the suburbs of Damascus was damaged Wednesday, with windows blown out and part of the ceiling was destroyed when warplanes hit rebels in a neighboring building. Its several hundred employees had to hide in the basement until fighting eased enough that they could be bused out to safety.

“I feel that they are both just as bad as each other,” he said of the rebels and the government. “I could have died today because they Login to read more

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